“They had got outside the castle of so-called human life. Outside the horrible, stinking castle of human life. A bit of true, limpid freedom.” ~ Florence, Aaron's Rod)
'Aaron’s Rod' concludes the central theme that D. H. Lawrence took up in 'The White Peacock', 'The Trespasser', 'The Lost Girl', and 'Mr. Noon': the idea of true human freedom. What makes Aaron’s Rod exceptional is the way it transforms the notion of love, regarded as the savior of human soul from the tyranny of social obligations. In his previous novels, Lawrence depicted characters that are fed up with their forced ways of social life. They are helplessly seeking a relationship that offers spontaneity, in harmony with their inner self, the depth of their soul. There is always only one answer to the question ‘How?’ and that is love. They break the existing social bonds and make new love relationships with varying results from a satisfied marriage (The Lost Girl) to suicide (The Trespasser). Contrarily, Aaron’s Rod takes a line that is overtly slanted against love as the true path of human freedom. It challenges the very notion of love as something consistent with the needs of the human soul. It even poses the question ‘what is true love?’
The first three chapters clearly poise 'Aaron’s Rod' against the mechanical mode of life in an increasingly industrialized society. Aaron Sisson is the Secretary at a colliery. He has to work till late in the evening and has an unsatisfactory marriage. His reaction to his suffocating emotional life is seen on Christmas Eve when he goes to bring his daughters some candles. Instead of returning home, Aaron spends the night at the Bricknells. He tells Josephine, “My wife has made up her mind she loves me, and she’s not going to let me off.” Aaron is not ready to wear the fetters of forced love. He makes it explicit in saying, “I don’t want to care, when care isn’t in me. And I’m not going to be forced into it.” The consciousness to love as something not arising from within man’s soul but something the world squeezes out of him is the cause of Aaron’s neglect of his family and his apparent waywardness.
As Aaron travels away from his family, he experiences the eternally present emptiness of existence. The outer frame of human existence is all a servile mask used to lure the capitalist, the landlord, the affluent to win worldly favors. In the chapter Novara, as rich William Frank’s guest, Aaron notices ‘the deference of all the guests at table: a touch of obsequiousness: before the money! And the host and hostess accepted the deference, nay, expected it, as their due.’ This hollowness of being pinches Aaron. Like every man, like every human being, he feels the necessity to be felt and loved. The question that thwarts him is whether man or only the mask of his material possession is loved. To be loved, one need must be known, and that is a rare phenomenon. It occurs to Aaron: “We cannot be exposed to the looks of others, for our very being is...